By Mike Torpey on 2023-11-13 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Kia Soul EV Explore
It's some claim when you consider that this is the car that launched the Korean brand into a new dimension, a vehicle almost instantly embraced by the student fraternity and young at heart.
That was on the streets of California where the urban crossover was designed and where, within just months of its launch, it became cool to be seen in a Kia.
This fresh model is a little less wacky but still very much a head-turner - and a seriously more desirable car than the original Soul electric, which was launched in 2014.
Buyers have a choice of two trim grades and battery sizes, the 39.2kWH pack in the medium range Urban model with its 171-mile range and the 64kWh battery in our Explore model with its 280-mile range.
You not only benefit from more peace of mind regards distance with the Explore but this level also comes with more performance courtesy of a 201bhp motor as opposed to a 134bhp unit with Urban, which is a couple of seconds slower in reaching 62mph from standstill.
The price differential is quite wide at £6,200 but Explore does offer significantly more convenience and tech, though both are well specified on the safety front with the likes of electronic stability control, lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance, high beam assist and a reversing camera on all models.
That extra outlay also means Explore drivers can enjoy features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, privacy glass, roof rails, sat nav and a 10.25-inch ‘floating' touchscreen with its own eSIM set-up that's always online giving traffic updates and public charger locations.
Having the larger battery pack means recharging from 10-80 per cent takes 47 minutes when plugged into an 80kW DC fast charger or nine hours 15 minutes from a home wallbox.
Visually the Soul EV looks quite a large crossover model, something that equates well with the car's cabin which feels spacious and offers ample space for five, including for three across the back.
The interior design is bright, modern and well put together and there are plenty of stowage options like door bins capable of holding a water bottle, a centre console that includes a phone tray, a sizeable glovebox, some smaller slots and cubbies plus a 315-litre boot that can be extended by dropping the 60:40 split-fold rear seats.
As a driver's car the Soul isn't especially dynamic but both smooth and comfortable with a handily raised driving position and impressive front visibility.
You can choose between the drive modes of Normal, Eco, Eco+ and Sport - the middle pair tuned to maximise range and the latter slightly weighting up the steering, though you don't realistically need a Sport setting in a car like this.
Other efficiency measures include a smart regenerative braking system operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel while an Eco Pedal Guide display on the instrument cluster highlights real-time battery usage.
And in a busy week of driving over various types of road we managed to get within a few miles of Kia's official 280-mile range.
Kia Soul EV Explore
Mechanical:201bhp, 64kWh battery plus electric motor driving four wheels via 1-speed automatic transmission
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Combined MPG:280 miles driving range
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